CHAPTER 1: ONE WHO SPEAKS
The gardener walked into their lives bright and sharp. Her need was covered by a ready smile. She came from a house with walls that echoed loneliness. On the very first day, her eyes were drawn to the little flower in the corner of the garden. Its beauty was in its simplicity. The gardener’s jealousy was already born. She watched it every day. It moved to the breeze and reached for the sunshine. The flower did not complain about the dark, the wind or the cold. Its roots had strength unseen.
The little flower was called Amira. It means one who speaks. She was guarded by the garden spirit, Farkas. Farkas loved Amira most of all the garden residents. However, he was wounded. He had lived many lives and carried the damage inside himself. He, often, went away and they would not see him for long periods. Sometimes, Farkas would sit near Amira. He would then remember the things that he rarely let himself remember. He would rest there until the wind called him away again.
The gardener watched it all and her loathing grew darker, How can the little flower have such a hold over the garden spirit’s heart? One morning, before the rising light had given its blessing to the day, the gardener, sick with her own longing, left her bed and killed the little flower. Now, Farkas will learn to love me. He will come to look at me and feel alive. He will protect me instead of the pathetic, dead flower.
When Farkas next returned, he went to greet Amira. He had missed his sweet friend. His eyes filled with rage when he saw that his little love was gone. He knew instantly what had happened and stormed to the gardener with fire and death in his breath. The gardener was frightened.
“I only wanted you to love me,” she said.
“You cannot kill another being and then claim their spirit as your own. I despise you,” Farkas spat at her. Still, he let her stay in the garden. She reminded him that he hated life. He wanted to hate life.
In spite of Farkas’s disgust of her, the gardener still longed for him. She waited for his return but the absences became longer until he barely returned at all. When he did return, he gave her nothing of his essence. The garden became a soulless place. It had no nourishment. One day, the gardener realised that if she stayed any longer, she too would be consumed by the slow death. And so, she left. She did not say goodbye. She did not wish to prolong the pain.
The garden was very still. A gentle breeze moved through the silent trees. It stirred the long, dry grass. A lone bird landed on a high branch. Surprisingly, it stayed there. Farkas was far away but he sensed that something had changed. He could feel a quickening movement in his soul. He returned to the garden and looked around. Not much was alive. Nevertheless, there was a subtle, sweet scent that had not been there before. In the place where the little flower had once lived, a tiny seed had sprouted and was holding onto both earth and air with all its might. It was willing itself to grow into a strong and beautiful flower once again. It looked fragile. Fragility is the mask of mastery.
“I will stay here. The garden needs me,” Farkas called to the distant wind.
CHAPTER 2: THE GUILTLESS GARDEN
The gardener, Verloren, left in despair. Leaving was painful but staying would have been worse. Verloren went with nothing more than she had arrived with, except for one thing; guilt. She carried the guilt of murder and, just as heavy, the guilt of wanting to consume another being. After several weeks of travel which seemed to be getting nowhere, she remembered a bedtime story her grandfather told her as a small child.
“Verloren, when you are weary go to the Garden of Garourinn. It is in the North Country where the winters are long and cold. There you will find the Head Gardener if you are so fortunate to be graced with his presence.” It was the first clear idea that Verloren had had in a long time. “Go quickly girl,” she thought she heard her grandfather add, “the season has not yet turned and you will be able to cross to the North Country. If you wait any longer, the pass will freeze and you will indeed wait a long time until it is clear again.”
She set off immediately, feeling that there was no other option that was any less arduous. While travelling, she pondered with both surprise and relief that her grandfather’s voice seemed to hold no reproach in it. Perhaps, she thought, he doesn’t know what I have done. She pushed the thought out of her mind, being sure it was the case. Just as her grandfather had said, the pass was not yet frozen. With considerable effort, often, having to retrace her steps from wrong turns, she made it to the other side,tired but unharmed. She glanced backwards to the pass and realized that she only had about one week before it would be completely frozen over. She needed to find the Garden of Garourinn, procure an audience with the Head Gardener, and then cross back over the pass before winter claimed the land as its own.
The days went by. Not only could she not find Garourinn but everyone she asked gave conflicting advice. Some said it was a myth and she was wasting her time. Some said it was high in the mountain but near impossible to find. Some said they had just visited the garden that day and it was only up the road a little. She quickly followed the directions she was given but not only was there no garden but no one in that area seemed to know of its existence. The last day was upon her and she had to make her way back to the pass before it closed. Verloren had a heavy heart. Her mission had failed and she had nothing to return to that was worth living for. Perhaps, it would be better to walk so slowly that the pass did freeze and then she could quietly go to sleep in the cold and not wake up. Her slowing paces suggested that this was the solution she settled on.
Verloren was startled by an abrupt voice. “Don’t be foolish girl,” said her grandfather. “Do you think that going to sleep will end your pain? It will not. Climb the next hill on your left and you will find Garourinn.”
Verloren was now wide awake and, with hope in her heart, she reached the crest of the hill. The view stole her breath. Perhaps, I have already died. She seemed alive, so she walked down into the green valley, a stark contrast to the surrounding mountains of white, rocky ice. There were trees, grassy meadows, and little homes. Everything looked peaceful. The sun was somehow shining warmly on this valley only. The massive walls of cold mountain were forbidding and, yet, they acted as a protection for the valley without infringing on its microcosm.
Verloren stopped at one of the little cottages because the door was ajar. She entered and felt immediately at home. A fire was sharing soft, comforting light with the room. She realised that she was very cold and wet and extremely hungry. There were clean, dry clothes on a chair which seemed to belong to her, although, they were much simpler than her normal taste in fashion. She gratefully took off her wet ones and pulled the new ones on and, strangely, had never felt so beautiful in any piece of clothing she had ever bought. On the table were warm bread, creamy butter, fragrant cheese, and slices of red apple. A sweet lemon and orange drink was more delicious than anything Verloren had ever tasted. Feeling safe and content, she lay on the welcoming bed and fell deeply asleep instantly. She did not have a worry in the world and could not even recall why anyone could possibly be worried about anything.
The morning light made dancing patterns on the floor. Verloren woke and suddenly remembered her quest. Having found the Garden of Garourinn, she must now find the Head Gardener. She was recalling that there were things she wanted and this was her chance to get them. The memory quickened her pulse. Not being able to see anyone to ask directions, she hastily walked back to the top of the hill to get a better view. She turned to the pass and could see that it had almost frozen over. On turning back to Garourinn, she saw, to her horror, the garden valley was there no more. There was a sudden, panicked emptiness in her stomach, worse than before she found it.
“Hurry Verloren,” the icy wind was swirling around her, “you have no more time. Run to the pass and cross now. You will not find Garourinn here again.”
Verloren ran to the pass, managed to cross it, and upon reaching the other side, fell to the ground in a sheltered place. She slept; exhausted but troubled. The next morning, still utterly exhausted and barely able to move, she tried to make sense of her journey. What a complete failure. I did not get to see the Head Gardener. I am no better off than when I started my journey. All I had was one, strange moment of peace which vanished as quickly as it came, as if to taunt me with the reality of my own existence. The hours passed as she walked but the bleakness did not. It grew more dense. Perhaps, her grandfather would talk to her again. Presently, his gentle voice floated into the recesses of her mind, moving in, and then vanishing as soon as she concentrated on it. If I relax, I may hear him better. The voice became more audible and Verloren realized that, this time, it was not her grandfather’s voice.
“I am the one you sought, Verloren. I am sorry that you could not see me this time but you are not ready. You did well. You found the Garden of Garourinn, if but for an instant. The healing you received there will help you to become lighter and you will be able to tolerate the frequency of Garourinn for longer periods before it disappears. Garourinn is my home. It is yours too. You will need to visit Garourinn many more times before you will be able to see me. Now that you have made the treacherous journey once, it will not be necessary for you to make it in person again. Instead, try to find it in your sleep. Each visit will strengthen you. Let me leave you with these thoughts.
You, like most Earth people, carry much self-loathing and guilt. It is true that you have done many bad things, many more than you currently admit to yourself. That is alright because it is the same for almost everyone there. Garourinn is the guiltless garden. Those who visit start to see their real form. They realise that they are indeed whole and beautiful. Seen as they really are, all sense of guilt vanishes. Nothing exists except this truth in Garourinn. It is very pure and has tremendous healing power. Those who visit regularly bring that power with them back into your world. You see, Verloren, we strengthen in ourselves what we give to others. Eventually, those frequent visitors may choose to go to other places. Everyone is free to stay as long as they wish. Garourinn is for your happiness and for all those who belong there. It is for everyone. By the way, I know your grandfather well. He comes here often but these days he mostly visits other lands, not your Earth home.”
CHAPTER 3: DON’T COME BACK
Farkas, the garden spirit, tried to keep the little flower alive but it was not going well. He wanted to settle into life at the garden but he was restless and distracted.
“I am not feeling well,” the little flower, Amira, said to him softly one evening.
“You are so strong,” Farkas looked worried. “Make yourself well again,” he commanded as if such a thing could be commanded.
“When I am a flower,” Amira explained, “I am reliant on those who care for me. I cannot change that. I think you should go to the Homeland for a while. It is autumn here and we will all survive without you for the coming months.”
When Farkas arrived at the Homeland, he was sent to the forested area and told to rest there. He went but could not rest. He knew all too well the talent of this forest. It would bring into your experience whatever most needed healing. No one ever wanted to come here, yet, everyone knew its benefit. Sure enough, before long, he had a visitor. It was his last Earth father. The likeness was uncomfortably obvious. Neither said anything. Farkas glared at his father. After a week of occasional appearances, Farkas’s temper got the better of him.
“What the hell are you doing here? Do you think I want to see you?” His eyes narrowed and grew dark, “If so, you are dead wrong.” His father looked neither apologetic nor offended. Nor did he look like he was going. “You never showed the slightest interest in us. F#ck off and don’t come back,” Farkas added. Upon his father’s departure, Farkas felt a sense of victory but, also, a strange disappointment. Couldn’t he, at least, explain himself? Better still, say sorry. For God’s sake, say sorry.
One evening, as Farkas walked by the river, he saw his father’s reflection in the water. I told him to go. Farkas swung around, insults ready. Nobody was there but the reflection still was. He looked more closely and was shocked to see it was his own reflection. It is disturbing enough to hold a lifelong grudge against another person. It is much worse to realise that the person is yourself. Whether he wanted it to or not, the grip of anger was loosening and sorrow was taking its place. Farkas felt warm tears. He had never cried about his father. He had cried many times for himself but rarely about himself. That would have been too confronting.
A woman appeared and spoke assuringly to him as if none of this mattered. “I am Milyaket, the Keeper of the Forest. Your time with us is done, Farkas. Come with me, please.” Disliking the forest intensely, he followed her. Farkas had nothing to say that was worth saying and so he let Milyaket’s soothing voice continue its rhythmic speech. “We know that you are in pain. We will help you get rid of it as soon as it is allowable. You cannot see it now but your pain is saving you from making worse mistakes. Be assured that your Earth father loves you and you love him. How could it be otherwise? You both chose each other. That is the greatest compliment. When people die, all these Earth disagreements are forgotten in favour of love. You blame others to save attacking yourself. Neither is necessary. You are not as you think and nor is anyone else.”
Farkas could not help but soften to Milyaket. She was so calm, peaceful, and good. He saw none of himself in her. That helped. He wanted to keep his forest discovery a secret. Besides, he did not even understand what it all meant. Milyaket spoke as if she was a consented part of his thought-conversation.
“Anything that is held in secret cannot be healed, Farkas. The light cannot reach that which is locked away in the dark. Together they reached a large, open room. Farkas could see very little in the room but Milyaket acted as if there were things and people everywhere. “Farkas, the Advisors have convened and suggest that you return to Earth in human form to continue your journey,” she said. “They feel that you will make better progress with a body.”
“I love a creature that is a spirit.” It was the only time that Farkas spoke. “If I return as a human, we will be too different to connect.”
“You see the separation of life as very arbitrary at this time,” said Milyaket. “You are not alone in this assumption. You have far more connection then you are even vaguely aware of. You will not lose the love that is yours. Return now.”
The garden was asleep. It was early winter. Farkas’s stride was sure and grounded. Dark hair, well-proportioned body, self-contained face, and eyes which were simultaneously soft and hard. It did not feel bad to be a human again. Let’s try this again.
CHAPTER 4: WINTER’S OVER
Winter was coming to a close. Farkas was getting used to being back in a body. He had spent the last few months doing simple tasks and thinking. He was looking forward to Spring because the warmth would bring the garden back to life. That meant his little flower friend, Amira, would wake up. He had so much to tell her. She would be surprised that he now had a body. He hoped that she liked his new body. He glanced in the pond as if to assess it from a flower’s point of view. He couldn’t tell. Who would know what a flower thinks?
Much of the garden had already awoken and was spreading in all directions. Farkas kept looking at the spot where his favourite friend lived to see if there were any signs of life. Strange. I can’t remember Amira being a late grower. A terrible thought crossed his mind. She isn’t asleep. She’s dead. She’s not coming back. Farkas reassured himself with the memory that once before she had restarted her life as a tiny seed. She will do that again, he thought. She didn’t. She didn’t come back this time.
The summer days were long and warm. There was always a late afternoon sea breeze to sweep away the remaining heat. Everyone in the little town slept with their windows open. The waves, the stars, and the morning birds were the bedmates of all who lived in the village. Farkas had recently invited another bedmate into his home. Her name was Elise. It did not take long for the girls of the village to realise that there was a new resident in the cottage on the hill. He was reserved, masculine, striking looking, and seemed to be entirely single. Elise, being the prettiest and most confident girl of the village, marked him as hers. The other girls knew not to challenge her. She had a young, sleek body, long blonde hair, and an infectious smile. Her conversation style was bright and flippant. At first, Farkas was not interested. However, he soon decided that it was ridiculous to grieve over a flower-spirit, no matter how close they had been. For God’s sake, he thought, she was a flower and, anyway, she is gone and is not coming back. Besides, he had forgotten that along with a male body comes the drive for a womanly one. Elise was very willing to be that womanly body. And so Farkas lost himself in her.
It was certainly fun. He even managed to forget his problems somewhat. He started to play with the idea that maybe it was maintainable and could bring him happiness. He reached towards her warm, sleeping body and drew it closer. Elise responded obediently although she was completely asleep. He could not help feeling two conflicting ways about Elise. One was simple, gratuitous pleasure. The other was dislike. Farkas didn’t like her. It crossed his mind that he never felt conflicted about Amira. She loved him purely and he responded with instinctive devotion. Amira was really the only place he felt no conflict. He simply liked being with her. As for Elise? He liked her body. He liked her smell. He liked her submissive adoration. Nothing about her scared him. Nothing challenged him. He also found her boring and needy and shallow. She did not love him. She needed him. Her loyalty was to her own survival.
Farkas knew he was no better. He struggled to find enough love to give to himself, let alone someone else. Yet, he thought there must be something inside him because he could love Amira. That love came from somewhere. Farkas’s memory of Amira and his previous life were fading fast. Once he was given a human body, it was surprising that he could remember his other existence at all. For some reason, he had retained his memories, however, they lingered but a while and then moved into the ether along with everyone else’s memories of such things.
After that day with Elise, Farkas could not quite bring himself to invite her into the house again. Even if he could not have love, he did not have to choose some meaningless, second rate version of it. It was better to be alone. In a few months, he happened to pass Elise in the street. She didn’t see him. She was too busy laughing with her companion, looking into his eyes as if he was God. Yes, it’s better to be alone.
Almost everyone in the world of Waldmeer visits other worlds but almost no one remembers it. They may have little, vague memories of things that happen inter-dimensionally, but they usually put it down to dreams, wishful thinking, confused memories, unaccounted knowledge, or synchronicity. Sometimes, people are given the gift of remembering things that happen elsewhere. The older, more advanced souls increasingly remember what they have experienced in all the dimensions.